Silly Novels by Lady Novelists by George Eliot
I bought this book in London together with ‘Travels in the Land of Kubilai Khan’.
The author is Mary Ann Evans; her pen name is George Eliot. Although I did not read any of the books she refers to, I thought it was interesting to read constructive criticism. Her criticism for fellow female writers was deeply rooted in the expectation for them not to follow comfortable patterns in their literary endeavours. At a time when female role models were not highly publicized, she found it their duty to be genuine, creative and insightful. I appreciate the author’s exigency for female writers to be faithful to their literary voices. She encouraged them to avoid a strong masculine style, to be feminine but not fall in the other extreme of simple and overly emotional.
‘Woman in France: Madame De Sablé‘ was most interesting to me. It starts with an interesting fact. In 1847 a Count Leopold Ferri died and left a collection of 32 000 books all written by women from all over the world. Pretty impressive number for that time. The author gives great literary credit to French women of the seventeenth, closer to eighteenth century for pouring great sensibility, wit and insight in their letters to family and lovers. These were an open window into their lives and souls that did not expect a public following but nevertheless proved invaluable. This quote is great:
“.. in France alone, if the writings of women were swept away, a serious gap would be made in national history”.
There is a beautiful description of French women. They opened their homes and created hubs of motivation for the writers of the time. They were not only hostesses or ingénue muses, but also strong sources of culture and inspiration. Really great to read this and think of how our communication and interaction with other people can spark originality. Maybe it is time to plan another dinner with friends and see what happens.